A FARMING company’s bid to build homes in a Borders village to help address financial pressures has been blocked.

W A Mole & Sons submitted an application to Scottish Borders Council (SBC) to build four houses on land west of Greenburn Cottage in Auchencrow, near Reston.

But planning officers refused the bid on the grounds that the proposed site would “not be well related to an existing building group of three or more dwelling houses”.

It was also considered the development would “extend beyond Auchencrow’s sense of place, into an undeveloped field, and would result in ribbon development to the detriment of both the village’s character and the surrounding landscape”.

The company appealed that refusal to SBC’s Local Review Body.

And while members who paid a site visit to the area supported the company’s bid to improve its sustainability, they refused the application on the grounds that it would have a negative impact on the village.

As well as employing staff exclusively from the local area, W A Mole & Sons also has several cottages on land in their ownership which are offered to locals at a very low cost.

This is important for the business as it provides regular, reliable cash-flow at a time of unprecedented challenges in the agricultural industry.

And the latest housing bid was another way for the company to improve the sustainability of the business.

But members expressed concern that the proposed development would extend the village and create a “ribbon development” – making it too prominent in a countryside setting.

East Berwickshire councillor Aileen Orr said: “It was a very, very useful site visit because I hadn’t realised how high the site as from the road, also the narrow road that had to be manoeuvred to get to the site itself and how close it is to the junction. I think it would be a ribbon development.”

Hawick and Denholm councillor Neil Richards said: “I had initially thought, ‘This is alright’, but the aspect of it being so high, I thought, 'No, this could be out of place compared to the buildings next to it and of course across the road'. This could change the whole nature of the village.”